Many people out there know just what to expect when they engage a graphic design studio.
But in our experience, not everybody does, and nervousness over the process, or confused expectations, can put people off.
The world of digital graphic design in particular, which many people still think of as witchcraft, can come across as a daunting world of code, jargon and bamboozlement.
But print design, or what you might call traditional graphic design, can also loom out of the mist like an impregnable fortress of bewilderment: bleed, vector, dpi – ‘real estate’ and litho…
But good news is at hand! We have published a two page, five-step guide to working with us, and what to expect from a relationship with Wallis Agency. The process is easy and friendly, the guide is simple and is yours to download for nowt.
Check it out here, or click on the elephant (and rest assured, we never use the term ‘real estate’ when talking to our clients…)
Love them or hate them, we’re all getting used to scanning QR codes much more at the moment.
We’ve been using them for a while in graphic design for our heritage work, as a great way to integrate a digital experience into traditional text panels.
Accessing the QR code and going to a web page lifts the content, so that words become audio, photos become video and you get more from the panel than just what can be got over in a flat design.
We’ve developed a series of panels for Dorchester Town Council that do just that – use QR codes to enhance the story with audio, visual and further information on the www.
Check our the story here.
(Getting your ker-ching! on)
One of the best ways we’ve found to add some e-commerce functionality to your website is through setting up a separate Shopify e-commerce website and linking it to your existing website.
Shopify sites can be designed so they complement your website and to all intents and purposes look as though they’re a page on your actual website, plus of course you can add navigation back to your site.
Shopify doesn’t cost the earth – it starts at about 29$ a month – and it has all the security, payment gateway information, analytics tools and customer management you could ask for.
In an ideal design world, magazines and websites would all use exactly the same sizes for adverts. But it’s not an ideal world, and many ad sizes differ – sometimes by a couple of mm – from book to book.
So, you can’t always design a nice advert and interchange it between publications. There’s always a bit of tweaking, shifting around and design micro-surgery to adapt the design from one platform to another.
And – by the way, stretching it to make it fit is not good. Not cool, not done, no way, deffo not.
Time is money, and you can imagine the frustration of having to pay a designer to fiddle around making your half-page ad 2mm shorter and 5mm wider, so when Dorchester estate agents Symonds and Sampson approached us and asked how they could create a suite of adverts to cover multiple outlets without having to do said tweaking, we had the answer.
We designed a series of 12 branded generic backgrounds – rural, urban, seasonal and site-specific, then provided a suite of illustrated assets like farmers, tractors, children, dogs, butterflies, London buses etc. for them to use as a sort of pick and mix.
So no more squeezing and dissecting one whole background. The layered scenes mean the guys at S&S can simply remove, rearrange and add the assets in any combination they like, to any dimension they like.
It’s great brand too. They’ve got strong colours and the scenes – in any combination – are instantly recognisable as Symonds and Sampson.
Ah, this is one graphic design question we get asked all the time. What is the difference between the two?
Put simply, a vector file (like an .eps or an Illustrator .ai file) can be blown up to whatever size you like, without losing resolution.
A JPEG is what’s known as a bitmap file. It loses resolution as you enlarge it. Photographs are usually JPEGs which is why, if you use one at a size it can’t cope with, you get pixels like half bricks.
Most logos are designed as vectors, so they can go teeny tiny or multi-massive without losing any definition, giving good brand in the process.
We sometimes have to redraw clients’ logos from bitmap into vector so they can be more versatile, but if you’re starting your logo from scratch – go vector. There’s nothing so disheartening as seeing your lovely logo lose its crispness when it’s blown up.
About six or seven years ago we asked ourselves a few questions:
A) What work to we like doing best?
B) What do we think is our best work?
C) Who do we like working with?
The jury didn’t need any extra time to come up with a verdict: heritage and museums. At the time we had done a lot of exhibition design work at the Fleet Air Arm Museum and designed the logo, guides, brochures, family trails and schools packs for Dorset County Museum.
So, we started to work on heritage exhibitions, interpretation, trails and other design as a core offering, and it’s proved very successful.
In 2017 we became part of the first ever approved designers roster for the National Trust in the South West, and we’ve been working with them ever since on some amazing projects – wonderful stuff for a wonderful organisation.
We’ve also worked with the RNLI, Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, Swanage Pier, Worcestershire & Warwickshire Museums Service, the Jurassic Coast Museums Partnership and Dorchester Town Council on some great heritage design projects. We’re also working with English Heritage at Muchelney Abbey in Somerset at the moment.
The thing we love about heritage design is that it’s always individual and bespoke – there’s a new challenge with each project and a chance to think big and think different.
National heritage is very much in the news at the moment. It’s important to everyone and stories need to be told. That’s why it’s such a fascinating and rewarding sector to work in. And that’s why we love it.
Words. Text. Copy. Blurb. Content. There’s almost always too much.
Not that that’s always a negative – better to have to cut down than to pad up – but it deserves some investigation. Why is it so?
Getting everything out there is rightly important to you, but not every detail is going to tinkle everyone’s bell.
Long copy, short copy, medium copy, we’ve written it all.
Calls to action!
Bright copy. Light copy.
Serious copy (but never intimidating copy – that’s stroppy copy).
Careful copy, crafted copy, quick copy (but never careless copy – that’s sloppy copy).
So we read with the eyes and ears of the audience. We know what they want is not always what you want to tell them.
We trim, we reshape, we practise economy, until the copy sings the same tune for you, just stripped back to make music to your audience’s ears. It’s weight-watchers for words.
And that’s it.
We’re all graphic designers now, aren’t we? like insta and her fellowship of filters has made us all pro snappers? The iPhone has turned us into Tarantino, yes?
Well, no. Or at least, yes, but no. While the graphic design tool shed has had its lock removed and the doors kicked open, it doesn’t make us master craftspeople. It’s wonderful that cool design software is at your fingertips, but there are some things you can’t download from App Store.
Like experience, or colour theory, or brand. Like an all-round knowledge of design trends, or a contextual view of where your design sits in a wider client portfolio. Experience builds up an instinct that takes a designer a long way: interpreting a brief is more than, well, interpreting a brief.
It’s like anything in life really. You can go it alone but it helps to be guided by someone who’s been there, done that.
Ever heard of Leonid Rogozov? He was the only Russian doctor at a remote Soviet Antarctic station in the early sixties. During a long blizzard he came down with terrible abdominal pains and realised – as no-one could airlift him out – that he would have to take out his own appendix. Which he did.
So, while this shows you can do things yourself if you really have to, it’s probably worth getting a professional in if you can.
A good graphic designer is not just a graphic designer, and a good graphic design studio is not just a graphic design studio.
But enough of the existentialism. There’s a serious point here. In addition to creating a beautiful logo for you, or a show-stopping website, a good designer will do more.
A good designer will look at what they have created from the point of view of a consumer. They will look at what’s been designed through the prism of your desired audience, and this is vital with a drop-cap V.
You may love your brochure, want to hug it and shout out to the world about how much you adore it, but unless your audience likes it too you could have a trunk-snorting, major-tonnage white elephant on your hands.
You’re close to your business, you live and breathe it. You know everything about it, from how much there is in the bank, to who has two sugars in their coffee and who prefers a lemon and ginger. You’re so close that sometimes you can’t see past it. That’s why you need a graphic designer. That’s why you need a second pair of eyes.
We are those eyes. We are not afraid to tell our clients (gently and kindly) if we think their vision is a tad off-kilter. We immerse ourselves in the worlds you want to travel in; we know where the gotchas live and we know how to outwit them for your benefit.
We’re often asked this question when we explain that your logo is not really your brand, that marketing isn’t quite the same thing as advertising and that graphic design is a means to create it all. So what is the answer?
Well (and this is just our take on it) there is a fair bit of overlap, but we like to think of it like this:
So where does logo fit in? Colours? Typeface? Design style?
These are the bricks you use to make your house, your thing, your baby. They’re the mystic makeup of your mojo. They’re the ingredients you use to win your bake-off, to make your soufflé stand up while your competition’s are flopping.
You choose your logo, your colours – yes, we graphic designers will allow colours – and your type, to make your brand, or at least the visual representation of your brand.
For your brand is not just nice colours and a logo. Oh no, it’s the whole experience – it’s how you engage with your audience and about looking through their eyes. It’s about emotion, connection and feeling. Beautifully designed visuals help, like putting on clothes you love to make you feel great, but you need to transmit that good vibe in everything you do.
There, that’s how we see things and how we help our clients in this world of design, marketing and brand. Not everybody may agree, but not everybody does.
The arts, culture and heritage have had a very rough ride in the last six months.
Watching performances, listening to live music and participating in shows and concerts has a hugely positive effect on people. The lovely folk we work with provide a great benefit to people of all ages and it’s been a shame to see it all sidelined.
BUT – you can’t keep a good creative down and these things will come again. Through live streaming, the band has played on, the jokes keep coming and the films keep rolling, and we know some talented actors and singers are going back into rehearsal as I write. Great news.
So, keep the faith, keep supporting the concerts, festivals, gigs and plays and one day in the not too distant future we will dance, laugh and clap once more.
Of all the things graphic designers produce, why does the logo always attract the strongest views?
Whenever someone brings out a new logo, it seems to polarise the responses into ‘love it’ or – probably more often – ‘hate it’. Have you ever heard anyone say ‘your logo? Yeah, it’s OK’? No, nor have we.
A logo is a graphic colleague. It may not look perfect all the time but does it represent your brand properly? Can you work with it and depend on it seven and a half hours a day, five days a week? Will it work for your brand, even when you’re not there, looking over its shoulder?
We’ve recently worked on design for an existing logo for one of our Dorset clients. They weren’t totally sure about it and asked us to tweak it and try a few new things. We did, and then we all decided that it was doing its job well, just as it was.
So, the moral is, spare a thought for your logo – it has so many jobs to do that it’s never going to look top dollar on everything, all the time. Are you just as good at doing the accounts as you are at marketing your business?
When you’re thinking about your logo, relax. It’s part of your brand, but not the whole part. Choose a logo that’s going to be a friend – in your good books 99% of the time, but an occasional disappointment – and make it something you love, whether other people like it or not.